Top FARC commander “Mono Jojoy” was killed by Colombian state forces. President Juan Manuel Santos confirmed the death of the rebel leader from New York City, where he is attending the U.N. General Assembly.
The head of the FARC’s Eastern Bloc and member of its Secretariat was killed in a massive air strike in a region called La Macarena in the central Colombian Meta department, 120 miles south of Bogota.
Some 20 other guerrillas were killed and five members of the security forces were injured in the attack, the government’s Defense Minister Rodrigo Rivera said.
Mono Jojoy, also known as “Jorge Briceño Suárez,” but born under the name Victor Julio Suarez Rojas, was thought to be group’s second-in-command, and military leader of virtually all guerrillas in the rebels’ war with the state.
Mono Jojoy was considered a hardliner within the command structure of the country’s largest guerrilla group. He was responsible for holding hostages including politicians, policemen, and soldiers. The veteran guerrilla had a $1.3 million reward on his head, and 62 arrest warrants against him. The United States had requested his extradition to face drug trafficking charges.
The FARC has faced serious setbacks in recent years, with high-level commander “Raul Reyes” killed by a Colombian air strike on Ecuadorean territory in March 2008. The group’s founder and supreme leader “Manuel Marulanda” died of natural causes in 2008.
An airstrike by the Colombian armed forces on Sunday killed FARC commander “Domingo Biojo,” political leader of the organization’s 48th Front, along with at least 26 other rebels.
Current supreme commander “Alfonso Cano” remains at large.
The rebel group began a campaign of attacks which have killed at least 56 members of the armed forces since Santos took office on August 7. Santos responded by categorically ruling out peace talks, declaring his government’s determination to beat the rebels.